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The Journal Gazette

Monday, April 22, 2019 1:00 am

Encountering baby wild animals

With April showers and May flowers come baby animals. This spring, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources is asking residents to keep wildlife wild by leaving them where they belong.

If you encounter a baby animal alone, remember:

Adult animals rarely abandon their young. The parent may be out of sight gathering food. Leaving young unattended is normal for many species. To minimize discovery by predators, adults return only a few times a day.

Do not hover to see whether a parent has come back to their young. An adult animal will not come near if a person is standing nearby. Give young animals space, and only check back periodically. If you can't tell whether a mother has checked on a nest, place straw or grass over it and return later to see whether it has been disturbed.

Baby animals should not be handled. Though human scent may not cause parents to abandon their young, it can alert predators to the young animal's presence. They can carry diseases or parasites that may transfer to people. Young animals can also inflict damage by biting or scratching people trying to help.

Rescuing young wildlife is legal; keeping them is not. You can rescue truly orphaned and/or injured wild animals without a permit, but the animal must be given to a permitted wildlife rehabilitator who is trained on how to properly raise and release the species within 24 hours. A list of wildlife rehabilitators is available at wildlife.in.gov/5492.htm.

Residents can't obtain a wild animal possession permit for a young animal collected from the wild.

– Indiana Department of Natural Resources